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  • The History of the Church of Japan. Written originally in French by Monsieur L’Abbe de T. And now translated into English. By N. N. by [CRASSET, Jean]. [CRASSET, Jean]. ~ The History of the Church of Japan. Written originally in French by Monsieur L’Abbe de T. And now translated into English. By N. N. London [no publisher], 1705-[7].
    First edition in English of the Jesuit Crasset’s Histoire de l’Église du Japon (1689). (more)

    First edition in English of the Jesuit Crasset’s Histoire de l’Église du Japon (1689).

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  • Kyoto to Glasgow, and back again
    Koromogae. by KAMISAKA SEKKA. KAMISAKA SEKKA. ~ Koromogae. Kyoto, Unsodo, Meiji 34 [ 1901].
    First edition (presumed first issue, being bound concertina style). A very rare and influential kimono design book by the Rinpa master, Kamisake Sekka. Koromogae (literally… (more)

    First edition (presumed first issue, being bound concertina style). A very rare and influential kimono design book by the Rinpa master, Kamisake Sekka. Koromogae (literally ‘change of clothes’) consists of 100 striking modernist fabric designs for kimonos, on double leaves. Sekka was an influential advocate for the wearing and design of the kimono among early twentieth-century Japanese women, encouraging the modernisation of its decoration and a closer liaison between producer and consumer.

    Sekka is important for having fused traditional Japanese design with European modernism, the latter experienced first hand in his visit to the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1901. At the age of 36, Sekka travelled to Europe on behalf of the Kyoto local government to attend the Glasgow Exhibition. He stayed in Europe about six months researching European craft and design before returning to Kyoto where he served as an instructor at the School of Art and Design. ‘Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942) was one of Japan’s leading artists, designers and art instructors. His bold, visually dynamic designs and innovative approach to production made him one of the great visionaries of modern Japanese art and design’ (Kamisaka Sekka: Dawn of modern Japanese Design, 2012). Libraryhub (formerly COPAC) lists the BL copy only (and a copy of vol. 1 only at Manchester). Worldcat adds National Diet Library (Tokyo) and University of Cincinnati only.

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  • [Rikka zu]. by (IKEBANA). (IKEBANA). ~ [Rikka zu]. [Kyoto: not after 1792].
    A delightful example of Japanese art of flower arrangement, ikebana, in the form of 24 ‘Rikka Zu’ (flower arrangements), with an important provenance. The arrangements… (more)

    A delightful example of Japanese art of flower arrangement, ikebana, in the form of 24 ‘Rikka Zu’ (flower arrangements), with an important provenance. The arrangements combine boughs of trees or bamboo. with flowers including chrysanthemums, lotus, lilies, irises, and cherry blossom. The style is deliberately and strikingly asymmetrical, with stems tightly bundled at the foot in keeping with prevailing decorative aesthetics.

    The manuscript is dated, on the first extant image, Kansei 4 (1792) July 7th and there is a further inscription to the verso of one fold, now partly obscured by a paper strip (an old reinforcement) but still legible. It reads: ‘The lord Todo Izumino-kami, when his ambassador’s mission at Kyoto had a celebration in Ryokan’ and ‘Ikeno bo’. Ikenobo was the oldest and most important school of ikebana in Japan, founded at Kyoto in the fifteenth century, while the Todo clan were an ancient Samurai family with origins in the sixteenth century. The manuscript may be considerably older than the inscription of 1792. Its style is closely comparable with a manuscript now at Cambridge, Ikenobō rikka no zu (CUL FJ.978.12) dated to the ‘seventeenth or eighteenth century’ (2223 in Hayashi and Kornicki, Early Japanese books in Cambridge University Library).

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  • Epitome of the History of Japan... with Illustrations of the principal historical Personages, taken from ancient Pictures. by MCLEOD, Norman. MCLEOD, Norman. ~ Epitome of the History of Japan... with Illustrations of the principal historical Personages, taken from ancient Pictures. Nagasaki: ‘Printed for the Author at the Rising Sun Office, Nagasaki, and Engraved at Osaka, Japan’, 1879.
    Presentation copy of one of the odder contributions to Far Eastern ethnography: a self-published thesis on the origins of the Japanese people among the lost… (more)

    Presentation copy of one of the odder contributions to Far Eastern ethnography: a self-published thesis on the origins of the Japanese people among the lost tribes of Israel by a Scot resident in Japan. The opening of Japan in the later nineteenth century after centuries of isolation encouraged numerous Western attempts to account for the specific features of Japanese race and culture. Among these was a notable desire to explain their origins in familiar terms. ‘Residing for several years in Japan, McLeod ventured to offer a full theory on the common ancestry of Japanese and Jews. Like his predecessors, he was astonished to find “many Jewish faces similar to those I saw on the continent”, and even the Emperor much resembled, he discovered, “the noble Jewish family of von Epstein”. Facial resemblance led to further analogies. Japanese shrines are built of cedar, he remarked, as was the Jewish Temple, and Jews carried the Ark of God as the Japanese do with their mikoshi (portable shrine). McLeod believed the Jews crossed Asia, conquered China, Korea, and later, headed by a Jewish–Korean leader known as Emperor Jimmu, they crossed the sea and took over the Japanese archipelago’. (’Lighter than yellow, but not enough’: Western Discourse on the Japanese Race’, 1854-1904)’, Rotem Kowner in The Historical Journal, 43, 1, 2000.

    The author, a Scots-born businessman-turned-missionary, self-published this work in Japan, with a first edition of 1878 and several later editions with modifications. This 1879 edition with 153 pages has its last page printed in differing type and its final sentence left incomplete (the verso is blank) in common with other examples. The plates common to both editions are evidently etched or engraved: a most unusual example of Japanese-printed copper plates at this period. McLeod had also produced a larger collection of plates: Illustrations to the Epitome of the ancient History of Japan: including illustrations to guide book (1877).

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  • Seiyo-Ji Kitei Koku-han. by (JAPAN). KANSHU TEI. (JAPAN). KANSHU TEI. ~ Seiyo-Ji Kitei Koku-han. [n.p., but Japan, c. 1850s].
    ‘How to read a western clock’. This rare and ephemeral booklet comprises one printed page of text followed by 13 full-page diagrams of cherub decorated… (more)

    ‘How to read a western clock’. This rare and ephemeral booklet comprises one printed page of text followed by 13 full-page diagrams of cherub decorated Western clock faces with Japanese zodiac symbol notations. Each clock face is left blank besides the numerals, presumably for completion in manuscript by the student. It wasn’t until 1872 that the Japanese government officially adopted Western style timekeeping practices, including equal hours that do not vary with the seasons, (and, also the Gregorian calendar). Previously the Japanese had used an (unequal) temporal hour system that varied with the seasons; the daylight hours being longer in summer and shorter in winter. This system was abolished at the start of the, 1868, The Meiji Restoration, an event that restored practical imperial rule to Japan under Emperor Meiji. The Meiji Emperor announced in his 1868 Charter Oath that “Knowledge shall be sought all over the world, and thereby the foundations of imperial rule shall be strengthened.” This modernisation led to the emergence of a western-style clock industry replacing the typical Japanese clock which only had six numbered hours, from 9 to 4, which counted backwards from noon until midnight; (the hour numbers 1 through 3 were not used for religious reasons, being the numbers of strokes that were used by Buddhists to call to prayer). The count ran backwards because the earliest Japanese artificial timekeepers used the burning of incense to count down the time.

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  • An album of 42 watercolours of plants and flowers. by (BOTANY). (BOTANY). ~ An album of 42 watercolours of plants and flowers. [Japan, late Edo period, i.e. mid nineteenth century].
    The naive but elegant watercolours here include ginger, eggplant, hot pepper, strawberry, mulberry, lily, carnation, marigold, vetch, hypericum and orchid. (more)

    The naive but elegant watercolours here include ginger, eggplant, hot pepper, strawberry, mulberry, lily, carnation, marigold, vetch, hypericum and orchid.

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